Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shopping, shopping, shopping + a couple things I've learned

Although I have a *lot* of homework to be doing right now, I am taking a break to type up an update! I hope everyone in NYC is reveling in NYFW and all its glory! Over across the pond en France, "soldes" has captured the country. I had no idea that sales in Europe were so tightly regulated! They only happen twice a year, and during those times, the stores become utter mayhem. But not without cause :)

I've ventured to Galleries Lafayette, Printemps, and finally this past weekend, Le Bon Marché. I can't tell you how much I despise shopping at Galleries Lafayette. It's a crush of humanity-- imagine Macy's and make it as full as Macy's + Century 21 on Saturday. I was so exhausted by the time I made it to the escalators!! The only upside: instant VAT rebates. Galleries Lafayette is the only shop in town to do cash rebates, which is great when you don't want to haul your goodies to the customs office in CDG. That could be HUGE if you are planning on making some large LV purchases.

Printemps is probably my favorite. It's a good mix of Saks and Neiman Marcus. The layout is quite nice, the brand portfolio is great, and they have a decent selection from each designer. I managed to get a really classy not-too-funky Kenzo dress for 60% off, which I'm going to wear to a company presentation.

Le Bon Marché to me is overhyped as a department store. True it's the highest end of all, but each designer's section is just so small! (Although I did score a pair of Balenciaga ballet flats for a mere €130.) The real gem is in the basement: Le Grande Épicerie, a huge luxury supermarket which reminds me a lot of City Super in Hong Kong (which I adore!). The fruit and produce display was gorgeous--it made me want to buy everything. The leafy greens are verdant, covered with a rolling misty fog.

Going on now in the US
- Barney's Warehouse Sale is winding down. You better believe I'm going to hit that up when I'm in town!
- YOOX.com's sample sale is going on. I've been ordering stuff like crazy to pick up when I head back. If you have stuff in your Dream Box, try using code "LOVEMYDREAMBOX" for an extra 10% off (ends Feb 19).

Random learning points
- Cosmetics in Europe-- I learned, to my dismay, that many products available in the US are not yet available in France! Even fairly established products like La Mer's powder foundation or even Chantecaille's (which to my knowledge is a French brand) Real Skin foundation. I was told both these items are available in the UK, but not yet in continental Europe. So if you're planning to come over for an extended trip, you better stock up. Overall the cosmetics are slightly-to-much more expensive than in the US (depending on the brand), and La Prairie products are truly incrementally less expensive in the Zurich airport. The big exception to luxury skincare: Sisley Paris is considerably cheaper here.

- Staying warm-- A couple of weekends ago, I went skiing in the gorgeous Zermatt, Switzerland. With a view of the Matterhorn everywhere you go, it's really not difficult to say that skiing here is unlike anywhere else. What's also unlike anywhere else: the bitter, bitter cold! When we were there, it was -20C (-4F) at the top of the mountain during the day and -30C (-22F) at night. I am happy to report that I stayed warm the entire time while my peers were freezing. This is going to sound like a shill, but I have to share this: wear Icebreaker. 3 layers of their 260 bodywear, and I felt nary a chill. My companions wore their high-tech Patagonia and whatnot, but they were complaining whereas me and my friend (who was borrowing my extra clothes) were not.

So apologies for my absence, but my MBA really has me under water. I'll try to post again soon!

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